Thursday, 23 May 2013
Nigerian ‘Pastorpreneurs’, How Christ-like? By Theophilus Ilevbare
Nigeria is home to some of the largest churches, fastest growing denominations and some of the wealthiest pastorpreneurs the world over. No surprise we’re considered the most religious people on earth. This tag, like our crude oil, is fast becoming our bane as a Nation. The opulence of these church founders has been achieved through compulsory and somewhat forceful tithing, seed sowing and constantly skinning of their flock and taking its milk.
Prosperity preachers they’ve become, relegating salvation and righteous Christian living to the backburner. No surprise that our thieving politicians have found a safe haven in churches, where they share stolen loot with pastorpreneurs in return for fervent prayers to turn away the prying eyes of relevant anti-corruption agencies. So much dust has been raised in the past when stolen funds become seeds in God’s house without ascertaining how it is acquired. Our pastorpreneurs just don’t care!
The Pastorpreneur is part CEO and part pastor and they are considered Christian businessmen. It is a concept that combines business practices, like that of an entrepreneur, with religion. An entrepreneur unites all means of production to get products for profiteering, constantly shifting economic resources out of an area of lower and into another of higher productivity and greater yield. So have the Pastors of mega churches turned.
They use members and workers of the church as a means to attain their unholy ambition, while their wives and children are made to function in strategic church positions to ensure seeds sown are properly remitted, constantly changing their ministerial headquarters from one megacity to another to gain more affluent members.
Today, the work of the ministry has been turned into a moneymaking venture. Prosperity preachers who never fail to emphasize tithing at every opportunity. They tell you if you want to be blessed beyond measure give beyond one-tenth of your earnings, some even ask you to sow your life! Unsuspecting members empty their pockets and when in dire need of a miracle their bank account, almost going broke thereafter, while the already super rich pastorpreneur lives like a royal. The sensibilities of the average Nigerian churchgoer have almost been washed away by the antics of these so called-pastors. They inordinately compete among themselves; who has got the biggest mega church auditorium. They move around in siren-blaring elaborate motorcades, splashing thousands of dollars on posh cars, purchase, maintenance and cabin crew of private jet(s), multimillion naira investments across all major sectors of the economy, typical of accomplished entrepreneurs.
Though seldom, politicians, when in church, are ushered to the front row, given all sorts of titles and mundane recognition, rolling out drums as they step out for thanksgiving. One begins to wonder if it is a political rally.
It is un-scriptural and sad that members sow seeds into mega church projects like elite secondary schools and universities which on completion eighty percent of the same members who sowed cannot afford to pay tuition of such schools in this or another lifetime! How they’ve been so blind folded and tricked overtime remains a mystery to close observers.
Scripture succinctly noted that Believers of today were first called Christians in Antioch because they possessed the very nature of Christ. The way and manner they went about their business was mirrored in the exemplary life of Jesus Christ, modesty, humility and righteousness were his watchword. Christ’s early ministry from birth to ascension was characterised by certain tenets, which he admonished his disciples and followers alike to adhere. ‘Set your affections on things above’ the Bible says, but the very Men who are supposed to lead the flock of Christ by example now milk them dry. Messages of salvation, holiness, and baptism by fire have now been left for the ‘small boys in the ministry’, those who have not attained mega status. Our supposed ambassadors of Christ have joined our thieving politicians or so it seems.
How many of the mega churches that are worth billions of naira have responded to the victims of the recent flood disaster in 14 states? Churches don’t pay taxes, if they now make billions and make big time investments, how about social responsibility? How do mega churches in Nigeria contribute to the development of their immediate community, touching the lives of the needy? Isn’t that Christ-like? How about making investments in areas that will have a direct impact on church members? A friend had the idea that three mega churches in Nigeria can come together and start an agricultural revolution by so doing creating employment, putting food on the table of the have-nots and giving the agricultural sector a shot in the arm. Won’t Christ up there be impressed?
You can follow the writer on twitter @tilevbare, he blogs at www.ilevbare.com